How Does CBD Affect Dogs?
Cannabinoids are substances including CBD and THC that mimic the endocannabinoid chemicals naturally produced in all vertebrates. Receptors for endocannabinoids are found throughout the body. The body’s endocannabinoids act as master regulators that signal other systems when to speed up or slow down, working to stabilize the body and return it to homeostasis. Cannabinoids from the cannabis plant affect these same receptors, each in slightly different ways. For example, THC causes a high, while CBD does not.
CBD, or cannabidiol, is an anti-inflammatory compound found in cannabis and hemp. AKC’s Chief Veterinary Officer, Dr. Jerry Klein, says it is essential to note that the CBD you choose for your pets should not contain delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the compound that gives marijuana its psychoactive properties. THC is toxic for dogs and should be avoided.
Dr. Klein recommends you avoid full-spectrum products that include THC for this reason. Rest assured, all of the CBD products you find on this website are made with pure CBD isolate and are completely free of THC.
What Afflictions Can CBD Treat?
Success stories abound of dogs overcoming anxiety, slowing seizures, and even beating cancer due to cannabidiol (CBD), one of more than 100 cannabinoids found in cannabis plants. But how can one substance help so many unrelated problems? Or can it?
Research with dogs is still scarce, but there’s a huge body of research (about 23,000 published papers!) looking at CBD’s effect on laboratory animals and humans, with encouraging results for pain, especially arthritic pain, itchiness, anxiety, appetite stimulation, sleep, and cancer, all of which have at least one canine study as well. CBD is also known to reduce separation anxiety and panic attacks in dogs.
The AKC Canine Health Foundation (CHF) is currently sponsoring a study, through the Colorado State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, that will evaluate the use of CBD in treatment-resistant epileptic dogs. The CHF hopes that this will be the first study to gain scientific data on the use of CBD in dogs with this condition.
Possible Side Effects of CBD in Dogs
CBD is 100% safe for dogs. Unlike THC, which can cause toxicity and even death in dogs when given at prescribed human dosages, the worst CBD has been documented to do is cause diarrhea and changes in some liver enzyme values after several weeks. While there’s no scientific data on the side effects of CBD usage for dogs, there are potential side effects based on how CBD affects humans.
- Dry mouth: Research has shown that CBD can decrease the production of saliva. For dogs, this would manifest as an increased thirst.
- Lowered blood pressure: High doses of CBD have been known to cause a temporary drop in blood pressure. Even though the drop is small, it might create a brief feeling of light-headedness.
- Drowsiness: Dog owners have used CBD to treat anxiety. The calming effect of CBD can also cause slight drowsiness, especially when using higher doses.
Risks of Using CBD
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has still not approved CBD and has not issued a dosing chart. Therefore, we do not know what size dosage, if any, would be toxic. We can tell you from experience that your dog can consume the entire bottle of treats or oil drops and be completely fine. So don't worry if he happens to get a hold of it while you're away.
The main concern with CBD is that it inhibits a chemical in the body called cytochrome P450 that is responsible for metabolizing most drugs. If a drug’s efficacy depends on its metabolized product, CBD could render it less effective. If a drug’s safety depends on it being cleared from the body within a certain time frame, CBD could cause it to build up to toxic levels. Never give your dog CBD without your veterinarian’s knowledge if your dog is taking other drugs.
Any medication or supplement carries the risk of a reaction. It is always advisable, when giving your dog something new, to start out with small amounts and then closely monitor the effects.
CBD Products on the Market
If you and your veterinarian decide that you should try CBD as a treatment for your dog, there are a few things to keep in mind when purchasing CBD oil. Not all oils are the same; you’ll want high-quality CBD oil to have a better chance of it working.
- Look for organic. If the CBD oil is not organic, it at should at least be lab tested to ensure that it does not contain pesticides, fungicides, or solvents.
- Don’t price shop. The higher the quality and purity, the higher the cost. You don’t want to go for a cheaper option that could have toxic substances such as pesticides, herbicides, or heavy metals. Make sure your CBD oil is free of additives.
- Get the analysis. The manufacturer should provide a certificate that tells you the amount of CBD that is in the product. Many CBD oils contain only small amounts of CBD. You’ll also want to make sure there is little or no THC in the product.
- Consider CBD as a tincture. You can buy dog treats containing CBD, but the best form to administer is a tincture. This way, you can adjust your dog’s dose drop by drop.
The CBD Trend
Why are we hearing so much about CBD oil now? Dr. Klein points to the legalization of marijuana in many places, which has triggered interest in marijuana-related products. “We are likely to see continued interest in CBD and an increase in research about its uses and efficacy in the coming years,” he says.
While some veterinarians are hesitant to suggest CBD, almost all are eager to discuss it once you bring it up. Of course, some veterinarians are more versed in its pros and cons than others. The main concern is its possible interaction with other prescribed drugs.
Overall, the evidence is compelling that CBD can help at least some conditions. The endocannabinoid system is the largest system in the body, and the least explored. Every year brings new discoveries—and new claims. It’s the beginning of a brave new world of health, but as with any new path, expect some wrong turns, dead ends, and false hopes. CBD is not a miracle drug, but it may be the miracle your dog needs.